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Early Lupus Features, Early Diagnosis

Early Lupus Features, Early Diagnosis

The rates of consults with general practitioners is higher in persons who have systemic lupus erythematosus than in those who do not, providing an important opportunity in primary care to reduce delayed diagnoses.

Researchers evaluated cases of systemic lupus erythematosus with practice-matched controls from the UK Clinical Practice Datalink. Odds ratios were calculated for age, sex, consultation rates, certain clinical features, and other diagnoses in the 5 years preceding the systemic lupus erythematosus diagnosis date in a study published online May 8 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Led by Frances Rees, BMBS, of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, the investigators compared primary care consulting practices before a diagnosis between cases and controls and aimed to develop a risk prediction model to better assist providers with earlier identification and diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus.

Studies have shown that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus are often given an incorrect diagnosis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. Better methods are needed to identify patients with the disease, and earlier diagnoses would improve treatment opportunities and health outcomes.

The study

Data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a longitudinal database of anonymized general practice records representative of the UK population, were used to create a case-control dataset of persons with systemic lupus erythematosus. Cases were adult men and women, aged 18 to 100 years, with incident cases of systemic lupus erythematosus.

The diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus was determined by 1 of 14 read codes for the disease or a subtype (excluding cutaneous-only lupus). All cases were newly diagnosed from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2012. A cohort design was used for the risk prediction model validation portion of the study.

In total, there were 2635 incident cases of systemic lupus erythematosus from about 571 practices: 1739 cases in the development data set that were matched to 6956 controls and 896 cases that were included in the validation model.

Consultation rates with general practitioners were significantly higher for persons with systemic lupus erythematosus than for controls (median, 9.2 vs 3.8 per year) in the 5 years preceding diagnosis.

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